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Court Orders Mediation Conference in Helicos Patent Suit Against PacBio, Life Tech, Illumina


By Julia Karow

A magistrate judge has ordered a mediation conference next month between Helicos Biosciences and three companies it is suing for patent infringement: Pacific Biosciences, Life Technologies, and Illumina.

Helicos filed the suit against PacBio a year ago in the US District Court for the District of Delaware, claiming that PacBio's sequencing technology infringes four of its patents. It later added Illumina and Life Technologies as defendants to the suit. In response, all three defendants countersued Helicos, claiming that several of the patents are invalid and unenforceable (IS 12/21/2010).

In a separate but related action, the United States Patent and Trademark Office recently rejected the claims of the four Helicos patents in a non-final office action after granting a reexamination request from PacBio (IS 5/10/2011).

Earlier this month, a magistrate judge ordered a mediation conference in the case for Aug. 29 and 30, during which Helicos will meet individually with the three defendants.

Each party needs to submit a mediation statement to the judge by Aug. 19, which will not become part of the court record. In these statements, the parties are asked to provide factual background, a summary of the law, an "honest discussion" of the strengths and weaknesses of their claims and defenses, a description of prior settlement negotiations and discussions, proposed terms for a resolution of the case, and an estimate of costs.

The contents of the mediation statements and the mediation conference discussions, including any resolution or settlement, will remain confidential.

The court said it "encourages all participants to keep an open mind in order to reassess their previous positions and to find creative means for resolving the dispute."

Have topics you'd like to see covered in In Sequence? Contact the editor at jkarow [at] genomeweb [.] com.

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